5 Ways Geographic Information Systems Can Help Local Governments Work Smarter

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The majority of data used by local governments is location based data. Cities need to keep track of addresses, parcel information, street lights, traffic signals, sidewalks, sewer infrastructure, electric infrastructure and many other location based features. Geographic information systems have an advantage over traditional databases when it comes to keeping track of this data because latitude and longitudinal information is included along with other attributes. According to ESRI by adopting GIS, cities can run more smoothly and their citizens “have a more positive experience.Here are five ways local governments can use GIS to serve their citizens in a smarter way:

  1. Resident Notification: Whenever a new development is proposed in an area, local governments are required to notify all property holders within a certain radius of the new proposal. Without GIS, this is a difficult task. According to Western City Magazine without GIS, staff would be required to identify the affected parcels of land, manually print out labels and mail notification to each address. A GIS system can automatically identify all the affected parcels and generate the necessary mailing labels.

  2. Speed Up Decision Making: GIS allows you to retrieve your data and display it in a clear, comprehensive way. GIS data combines street maps and satellite imagery with land use information such as developments and zoning. This allows staff to easily present pertinent information at city meetings. The information can be displayed and arranged in a clear, concise way allowing administrators to make informed decisions more quickly.

  3. Open Communication with Citizens: Most GIS data used by cities is considered public information. That means everyone in the city has access to it. GIS allows citizens to access this data more easily. Many cities make their GIS data available for free on their websites. This allows citizens to view permits, planned developments, aerial and satellite image and many other things.

  4. Collect Public Input: Many local governments are using GIS to help collect public input. According to GovPilot. By making GIS data available to citizens through a website, citizens can mark intersections, sidewalks and roadway that need improvement. In this way, citizens can report problems like potholes, problem with streetlights or other necessary improvements.

  5. Disseminate Public Safety Information: Some cities are making the location of police service calls available to their website. This way citizen can easily use GIS to find out how safe their neighborhoods are. Some cities allow citizens to comment and report on activities through the system as well making it a two way mode of communication.

GIS allows cities a perfect opportunity to store data. The type of data that can be displayed using GIS is clear and easy to follow. Adopting GIS saves a city money and provides better communication with its citizens.


Craig B.

Craig B.

Loveland, Colorado, United States

I have a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Colorado State University. I have a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science from Northwest Missouri State University. I have ten years experience working in Geographic Information System and five years experie...

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